Continuing the Kingdom Hearts 10th Anniversary celebration, Famitsu Weekly released a second article containing an overview of the entire series along with commentary from various staff like manga artist Amano Shiro and Disney Japan’s Justine Scarpone as well as others. The article also contains more information regarding details players may want to pay attention to on their second play-through of Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance.
Last but not least, it includes an insightful 10 question interview with the director himself, Tetsuya Nomura. Make sure to read it below, there are no spoilers relating to the contents of Kingdom Hearts 3D!
Q1. The series has celebrated its 10th anniversary, how do you feel now?
A1. I’ve gotten old. (Wry laughter.)
The first Kingdom Hearts title went on sale in 2002. At that time, Nomura was 31 years old.
Nomura: Really now, I can’t move like I did 10 years ago. The feeling of impossibleness has lost its effect on me. (Wry laughter.)
After this how many titles do you think you’ll put out into the world, have you calculated that far?
Nomura: After 10 years, I’ve thought that “the creator’s life span is short”, so I’ve already decided that as long as a hold a position where I have the opportunity to make things, I will do so. At any rate, so far I have already made quite a number of titles. There is still a lot I want to make, and since there is something I promised with my staff, from here on out I want to continue making titles as long as possible.
Furthermore regarding the future, Nomura added: With my close colleagues, if half of them retire maybe I’ll be able to make things more leisurely. (Laughs).
Q2. During these 10 years, what’s the most impressive occurrence to you?
A2. The release date of each title.
Nomura: When the release date comes, it feels like it’s actually been completed. Once it reaches the players hands, I can say it’s finally complete. Then the first thing I do is relax.
What about the most impressive occurrence involving the advertising team for the series?
Nomura: We were at an event in Los Angeles prior to the North American release of Kingdom Hearts II and when the trailer was streaming there was a great cheering from the crowd. It was very moving for me, and I haven’t forgotten about it even now.
Q3. What would you say is the overall theme of the Kingdom Hearts series?
A3. Defining what the “heart” is.
Nomura: I set the theme around the “heart”, and the “things that the eye can’t see” that relate to it. How a character feels, and what the character thinks about those things which they can’t see, it’s drawn around that idea.
Bonds, friendships, promises, memories, sleep, and dreams. All these keywords of the series are connected to the “heart”. Also, they are things that everyone concerns themselves with in their own lives. Though it’s a fantasy, it evokes a strong sense of sympathy. Maybe that’s the reason the titles of this series reverberate in our own hearts.
Q4. As a director, what part of the Kingdom Hearts titles do you put the most consideration?
A4. I put serious consideration into every aspect.
Regarding the Kingdom Hearts series, every element passes through Nomura’s hands and he makes the final decisions, from the system’s technical specifications, to the story’s plot, the final script, the design of the small icons in the menu and maps etc., the music, and all the names of the games contents. It’s the same with promotional material, Nomura directs every detail that goes into them, from the advertisements and storefront pop ups, to how the trailers are edited.
Nomura: I put serious consideration into every aspect of the titles, I want to release it once I’m satisfied with it.
Having a responsibility to himself to only put out titles that he is satisfied with, that is Nomura’s policy for Kingdom Hearts.
Q5. When you draw the Kingdom Hearts characters, what do you focus on?
A5. I draw them freely and without expectations.
Nomura: It’s a collaborative title with Disney, but if I drew with the designs of the Disney characters in mind, then it wouldn’t really be a collaboration, so I draw Sora how I like as the standard.
Also, from the Kingdom Hearts illustrations drawn so far, which one is your favorite?
Nomura: I’ll go with my gut feeling, it’s the illustration used on the package of original Kingdom Hearts, since it was the one that began everything. I drew it thinking that it was unlike any Disney image seen before.
Q6. What components of Kingdom Hearts do you think stand out the most?
A6. The deep story and refreshing action.
The series has many charms and features, but it’s these two aspects that stick out the most.
Nomura: I always tell my team, it’s about the story and action. We make Kingdom Hearts satisfy both those elements.
On top of that, the systems developed in the titles are relevant to the story among other aspects, it seems giving each element of the game meaning is Nomura’s specialty. It must be that attention to detail which he produces worlds with a sense of unity that garner him so many fans.
Q7. If you were to defined the music of Kingdom Hearts, what would you say?
A7. It’s a joint effort with Shimomura-san.
Composer Yoko Shimomura’s specialty is dramatic melodies that fill the listener with emotions, it’s easy to see how it’s a joint effort with her.
Nomura: Ultimately, the songs in Kingdom Hearts are made through a joint effort with Shimomura-san. Recently Takeshi Kando and Takeharu Ishimoto have been participating as well, but to get the atmosphere as right as possible so we can say it’s definitely Kingdom Hearts quality, the music inadvertently becomes more Shimomura-ish.
My own favorite song is “Dearly Beloved”.
Nomura: Originally, that song wasn’t given the go ahead. But it was a favorite of mine and I decided to use it on the title screen, now it feels like it was fated to be.
Q8. If you could give advice to yourself from 10 years ago when you begun producing Kingdom Hearts, what would you say?
Q8. It’s gonna be long!
Nomura: Its continued more than I expected, I’ve had to take a lot of notes. There’s a lot to forget! (Laughs.)
At that time, amongst the 99 pages there was a comment from Kanamori, saying that there weren’t plans to make a sequel.
Nomura: There weren’t details about the story’s continuation, but I was considering it to some degree. When Kingdom Hearts was released, its sales went really well. It’s thanks to all the fans who supported the original Kingdom Hearts that we’ve been able to develop a series that’s continued for over 10 years.
Q9. Now 10 years later, what do you think has become of Kingdom Hearts?
Q9. It isn’t finished yet, huh.
Nomura: At that time, I figured by the time I was 50 years old I wouldn’t be able to work like I did then, so I took a slow pace. (Wry laughter.) The Xehanort saga will end in the next one, but it’s not necessarily completely over. When I finish it, I want to “close” the story completely, so no one could make a continuation of it. I’m thinking of a way to end it so there is no room to continue it.
While there doesn’t seem to be any details about how he will end it, he seems to have an image to some degree of how it will happen. The recently released title on sale now is the next episode in the Xehanort saga centering around Master Xehanort. I wonder when something relating to Kingdom Hearts 3, which will assumably be the final chapter, will be shown? Attentive fans will want to play Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance first and check on the secret movie.
Q10. For you, what does Kingdom Hearts mean?
Q10. My thirties.
Nomura: These works were the first ones I directed, at the same time they are my “masterpieces”. I am free to be my most creative in these titles. In an older interview, someone asked, “What does Final Fantasy mean to you?” And I answered, my twenties, because I had certainly spent my twenties working on those titles. However, 10 years after that, there’s Kingdom Hearts too.
The Final Fantasy series was founded by a number of creatives, but Kingdom Hearts was produced as a result of Nomura choosing a challenge and making a new setting altogether. Kingdom Hearts is where the creative spirit of Tetsuya Nomura really blossomed.
Before Nomura drops out of our office, we were able to ask him a few more questions!
- Can you tell us a bit more about the last illustration revealed for Kingdom Hearts 3D?
Nomura: That illustration was the first one I drew for the KH3D packaging. Like I mentioned in a previous interview, Sora is small in it so it’s hard to recognize who he is, so it went back on the shelf so to speak.
- Sora is quite small in it!
Nomura: Well that… It’s not related but since we’re on the topic of small things… Hazama-san (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy’s Producer) wanted me to mention that the song “Somnus” is available for download in Theatrhythm FF, I told him it wasn’t related to Kingdom Hearts so it’d be off topic, but now I’ve said my part. (Laughs.)
- It’s a good thing we have bonus time. (Laughs.) “Somnus” is a song from Final Fantasy Versus XIII huh. It’s a nice chance for all those who can’t wait to enjoy a little taste of the game.
Nomura: Also coming up, next week’s issue of Famitsu Weekly (on sale April 12) will contain an exclusive AR card for KH3D. Your collection won’t be incomplete without the Spirit Dream Eater on the card, but I thought it’d be fun to include an additional element that players could look forward to afterward.
- It seems that these won’t affect the collection of trophies in the game.
Nomura: That’s right. The first release of the game comes with an AR card that has 1 of 3 Spirit Dream Eaters like Kingdanyan on it, but through breeding you can obtain all 3 in the game. On the other hand, there are the Spirits on AR cards that come with Famitsu etc., these types of special promotional Spirits do not affect the completeness of the game itself.
- Lastly, a message for the fans.
Nomura: It’s thanks to all the fans who have followed Kingdom Hearts over these 10 years that it has become a prolonged series. I truly appreciate it. Thank you for this. Thinking back when I was working on the original Kingdom Hearts, I wondered if it would be well received or if the first would be the last, I had to put my trust in all the players. Although there’s probably some who have went in and out of interest during these 10 years, it’s really thanks to all those fans who anticipate the new titles and praise them after playing that we’ve been able to make it this far. In that sense, the Kingdom Hearts series was made possible by you guys. I hope to continue the series for as long as there is interest. Please continue to support us from here on out, thanks for everything.